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Deadlock persists over alliance among Bihar parties

PATNA, MARCH 19. While a broad-based electoral alliance among secular political parties, including the Left, is ruled out in Bihar, seat sharing exercise between the NDA partners BJP and Janata Dal (United) is also facing rough weather, although efforts are on in both the camps for rapprochements.

Crisis further precipitated in the secular front, headed by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar, following announcement of candidates to some constituencies by two potential constituents of a broad-based alliance, namely the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) and Communist Party of India (CPI).

The CPI has since released a list of four candidates and the LJP named Surjbhan Singh as its nominee from Balia.

The RJD chief, Laloo Prasad Yadav, however, still nurtures hope for an alliance among the secular parties to achieve the goal of defeating the NDA at the hustings although he virtually declared the possibility of has seat sharing with the CPI as closed since the latter had unilaterally announced the list of candidates.

On the other hand, the CPI(M), which won the Bhagalpur seat in 1999 polls, set a condition that no person with criminal background be fielded by any constituent party of the anti-NDA alliance, obviously pointing their fingers at Pappu Yadav, an accused in CPI(M) leader Ajit Sarkar murder case and who is tipped as an LJP candidate from Purnia.

The party would not claim "unrealistic" number of seats from alliance partners in greater interest of preventing division in secular votes, CPI(M) leader Sarboday Sharma said.

As the LJP president, Ram Vilas Paswan, refused to wait for an electoral understanding with secular parties and declared that the party would field candidates in 12 constituencies in Bihar, RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav kept the Congressmen guessing about the number of seats likely to be conceded by his party.

Mr. Yadav is also in a fix following claims of more than half a dozen ministers in Rabri Devi ministry for party tickets in the Lok Sabha polls and also public pronouncement of Revenue Minister Ramai Ram to contest the polls from Hajipur "at any cost", a seat believed to be Mr. Paswan's citadel.

The RJD supremo, however, said talks were on with the Congress and LJP on sharing of seats and avoid division in the anti-NDA votes.

In NDA the crisis deepened with the BJP's claim for Muzaffarpur constituency which was unsuccessfully contested by JD(U) in 1999 under seat sharing arrangement with BJP. Member of the dissolved Lok Sabha Capt. Jai Narayan Nishad joined the BJP recently and denial of party ticket to him might create problem for the BJP.

NDA convenor and JD(U) President George Fernandes reportedly wants to shift from Nalanda, which elected him to Lok Sabha in 1999, and expressed his willingness to contest from Muzaffarpur.

Since the seat was allotted to the JD(U) in the last elections, the party would have no problem in fielding Mr. Fernandes in Muzaffarpur, party sources claimed.

Meanwhile, non-resolution of the stalemate delayed announcement of list of candidates by the BJP and JD(U), although both the parties agreed to contest 17 and 22 seats respectively out of the remaining 39 constituencies. -- UNI .

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